Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Bread Helpers

This morning, I found a great new bread recipe.  My bread has been turning out really well lately, but I have no idea what the recipe is.  I just start adding things and have anxiety about what else should go in it, add some more things.  Maybe I should just go with it, since the bread is good, but it stresses me out to not know what I am doing.  Especially since it occasionally bombs.  The boys take sandwiches from home every day for their lunch, so I need to have reliable bread (or Trent might go to the used bread store and buy some.  What?  I haven't written about that?  I should.).

So here is the new recipe, from Deals to Meals.  I will add in my modifications.  Doesn't it look good?  Hopefully this will work.

Step 1.  Grind flour.  Lug the wheat grinder out of the laundry room, then go back and lug the mixer into the kitchen as well.  Be smart this time, since you are wearing dark clothing and you are about to work with flour.  Grab your apron.  Pour in wheat and grind.  While it is about as noisy as a large airport in the kitchen, go in the back room and get out Alton Brown's baking book (no affiliate link - I just love the book because I like to know the why behind the what) because you remembered something about using the sponge method to make better bread.

Step 2.  Measure 7 cups of flour into mixer.  Pour the rest of the flour into the empty bread canister.  Let Twin 2 brush the spilled flour into a little pile on the counter, knowing that he will play in it and then eat it.  Justify the mess by thinking there wasn't much spilled.  Notice that you don't have enough flour to finish the recipe, and make a not to grind more flour in a bit.  Hold Twin 1 when he realizes (like he couldn't hear the grinder?) that you ground wheat without him and he wanted to see the kernels get sucked down into the machine.

Step 2A.  Grind more flour.  Mollify the little guy.  Fill up the grinder with more wheat and start grinding.  While it is going, put 4 cups of water in the microwave to warm up because your hot water is soft water and you can't use it in recipes.  Measure temperature of warmed water and decide it needs a bit more heat, so microwave it again.  While closing the microwave door, hear the spilling sound of several cups of wheat hitting the floor.  Chastise self for not keeping a better eye on them while muttering bad words.  Scoop wheat kernels off counter and add them back into the grinder.  Sweep floor and discard that wheat because it is really dirty.  Get out the water and mop up all the water that spilled all over the microwave when it boiled over while you were cleaning up the wheat.

Step 3. Measure 2 1/2 tablespoons of yeast - or approximate with a scoop and a half - into the mixer and blend into the flour.  Forget to put the lid on and fluff flour all over the place.  Wipe counters.  Sweep floor (floury floors are slippery!).  Pour in warm water and mix.  While it is mixing, get out another cup of water, warm it up in the now clean microwave, and add because your measuring cup only goes to 4 and you need 5 cups of warm water.  Mix.  But the new water won't mix with the dough, so it just sloshes around in the bottom of the mixer.  Turn mixer up higher.  And higher.  Watch with bad words as pasty water starts to squirt out to top of your mixer and dribble onto the counter.  Even though you remembered to put on the lid.  Hold the lid on tighter and turn the mixer down a little.  Give children popcorn to keep them busy while you wipe down the mixer and the counter.

Step 4. Refer to recipe.  Refer to alternate cookbook.  Get mixed up between the two.  Decide to do a full sponge step instead of just letting the flour soak.  Add 1 cup sugar and 2/3 cup oil and mix well.  Or just pour some oil into the mixing bowl while it is going and hope that was about the right amount.  Maybe a little more.  Should we add an egg?  No, you should stick to the original recipe when trying something new.  Too late.  But no egg.  Sweep floor again, because you gave the twins popcorn.

Step 5. Let the sponge rise until double. It is already covered, with the lid you jammed on in step 3, but forget that it will rise higher than the capacity of the mixing bowl.  Go put your feet up for a while.  On second thought, look at the time and run to the school in a panic to pick up the girl from kindergarten.

Step 6.  Pry lid off mixer and despair at the mess it made.  Knead in 5 more cups of flour and 2 tablespoons salt.  Oh!  There was supposed to be 2 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice, too!  Add that first, and hope it will be ok.  Measure out salt by dumping it in your hand and pretending to know the volume of your palm.  Out of curiosity, measure an actual tablespoon of salt and pour it into your hand.  Then add more salt to the bowl because a tablespoon is waaaay more than you thought it was.  Proceed with the flour.  Only add 4 out of the 5 cups because the dough is getting firm enough.  Dough should be soft.

Step 7. Turn out onto counter, cover, and let raise until double.  Make ham and cheese sandwiches for the kids.  Warm up and eat some leftover jambalaya, topped with Super Bowl 7 layer dip.  Clean up lunch.  Send the kids to clean their room, knowing that they will clean up three things and then get distracted and play with the fourth thing they pick up and you will have a short period of quiet.  Be disappointed that you weren't the only one who knew about that last piece of pie hiding on the bottom shelf of the fridge.  Hope that the man enjoyed it.  Placate your sweet tooth with an old Sara Lee snack cake.  A few minutes later, regret eating it.  Feel a little bit panicky when you can't remember how long the bread has been sitting there. Try not to let the children snitch and eat pieces of bread dough.

Step 8. Flatten and fold dough to redistribute gas bubbles.  Lest rest for a few minutes.  Shape dough into 4 loaves and place in oiled pans in a warm oven.  Let rise in oven until dough reaches the top of the pan.

Step 9. (optional) Forget about bread in oven and let it continue to rise until it threatens to take over your oven and ooze out to rule the world.

Step 10. Turn on oven to 350 and bake 30 minutes.  Die and float off to Heaven due to the wonderful smells wafting from your kitchen.  Remove from pans about the time the boys get home from school and cool on racks.  Blink and two loaves will somehow reduce to bread crumbs and butter smears across the counter.  Get out the sourdough starter and feed it, because we'll need more bread day after tomorrow.

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